We are all up and on the trail by 6:30 am, on the hiker train headed for Etna. There’s a hill up, and all is looking good until we finally hit The Snow. The scary stuff. And with only one pair of microspikes between the four of us.
I stay calm, but am soooo sloooow compared to the others. I have the least snow experience and likely the least tread on my shoes. But mostly it is about confidence. Ever so cautiously, I pick my way across the snow patches. Step. Pole. Pole. Step. Kick. Pause…..
Until Shuffles (formerly known as Silver) suggests I wear Speed’s microspikes which he isn’t using. Then I have no problems keeping up with my newfound grip on the world. Until we really hit The Snow. The part that is too big to opt around, and where a slip could lead to serious injury. I offer Speed back one or both microspikes and so we proceed, with traction on one foot each, like some crazy lost curling team.
We make it across all in one piece, not panicking and with no major slip ups (or downs). And so we stand on the last flat bit of snow like brave conquerors and take celebratory photos only to watch a new-to-us thru hiker power across in worn trail runners as if the snow wasn’t there at all. “He’s just walking in our steps,” we console ourselves.
With the last of the phone signal before descending to the pass, Shuffles texts Jim, who we met at the last road crossing yesterday. Jim had been hanging out near the trail on his Harley and kindly offered to pick us up today, saving us an often hard hitch.
We are delivered to the Hiker Hut, a tidy four bunk hostel annex to an adorable and very well kept B&B. Etna is small, lovely, and nothing but welcoming as we repeat our round of town things, and then settle on the cool lawn with a picnic of fresh, healthy foods. Talking about our favorite trail towns, Etna is the newest contender.